In order to realistically achieve the aim of developing a solution that is 40 years more advanced than the current railway state-of-the-art, the IN2ZONE project needs a highly interdisciplinary approach. It will use the latest research from a wide range of fields to develop next generation transition zone solutions.
Some of the disciplines contributing to the research are:
Sensor technologies – The resilience-based monitoring system that will be designed will consider recent and novel developments from the sensor industry, that could add value for the next generation transition zone. This will include advanced MEMs accelerometers embed inside ballast, advanced strain gauges and pressure sensors.
Artificial intelligence – The transition zone will be monitored and also self-correcting. Using the data collected, data fusion combined with advances in artificial intelligence such as deep learning and decision trees will be used to inform self-correction and maintenance scheduling.
Geotechnical engineering – The next generation transition zone solution will span from the natural sub- soil to the wheel-rail interface. Therefore, geotechnical engineering will be used to inform the design solution. For example, smart geotextiles and novel soil improvement techniques will be investigated.
Seismic engineering – To protect against noise and vibration, metamaterials will be considered. Their design will be influenced by recent developments in photonic crystals, which are gaining traction in the field of seismic engineering.
Railway engineering – This is the primary discipline for the research. New developments in 3D discrete element modelling and full-scale physical testing will be combined in an interdisciplinary manner with the disciplines above.
Bridge engineering – The transition zone is defined by the area between the track on the bridge and track on the earthwork. Looking further than only on the transition zone, the reduction of track stiffness in the end part of the bridge can also reduce the transition zone problems.
Material science – Polymer-based materials used for the development of the new type of sleeper and the reinforcement of the railway ballast relate to macromolecular chemistry. Their suitable choice and method of application will ensure the resistance of the elements in the transit zone to chemically aggressive environment and high and repeated impact load induced from passing trains.
Satellite imagery - Satellite monitoring techniques such as Permanent Scatter Synthetic Aperture Radar (PS-InSAR) will be considered, to perform the statistical analysis of signals back-scattered from a network of phase-coherent targets.